I snagged the cassette for four dollars I'd saved from skipping lunch in middle school. Maiden was one of the groups banned by my mother, so I had to buy it on the sly and sneak it into the house. I kept the cassette in either my stereo or walkman, with case hidden with a small stash of (ahem) illicit reading material. That's how serious a problem heavy metal was seen by my mom. She'd already banned Alice Cooper (a devout Christian) for being a sick Satanist and was convinced that I'd wind up on drugs and worshipping the Devil myself if I listened to the garbage. But like with my impending obsession with horror, I found ways around the rules and dived head long into head banging music. I mean, for all the rules I had to live by I was fairly unsupervised and I only got caught when I was careless.
My cousin had Iron Maiden posters on his wall, including the long, uncensored version of Killers, so the image of Eddie had been seared into my brain for years and after hearing a snippet of Running Free in 6th grade I knew I had to get some Maiden.
Maiden came out of Britain right at the start of punk rock and their debut has a very raw, punk feel to it, but the band disowned any notion of there being an influence. They recorded the album in thirteen days, mostly by themselves after parting ways with their producer. Debuting at Number 4 in the UK, it didn't take long for Maiden to become a world wide phenomena. (Look at some video of Maiden playing in Brazil in the last few years if you have any doubt about how huge this band is.) There's really nothing I dislike about this album, although it took me a while to really warm up to the slower, prog-like Remember Tomorrow and Strange World, but once those songs had their hooks in me, I really got into those heady sci-fi moments. Phantom of the Opera is even more proggy and the longest track on the album, but I dug the horror influence and it was a much faster song. The rest of the tracks are pure rockers; Running Free, Charlotte The Harlot, Sanctuary, Prowler, Transylvania, and Iron Maiden put to shame most rock bands' whole catalogues...and this was their debut! Never mind Piece of Mind, Number of the Beast, or Powerslave (or the rest of their stellar albums!).
There really aren't other bands out there you can compare to Maiden, even the other NWOBHM bands. Maiden are unique and irreplaceable and everything from the songs, to the album covers and t-shirts to the "face" of the band, mascot Eddie, to their longevity put them head and shoulders above their peers in nearly every respect. I saw them in Charlotte a couple of years ago with Alice Cooper and they still put on an amazing show and despite the fact that you still won't be hearing them on FM radio they played in front of a larger audience that time around than they did when they had an album in the charts. Maiden fans still care, they're still devoted, even they don't like a particular song (or singer), and it all started with a bad ass eight track (nine in the US) album with a strange zombie head banger on the cover.
UP THE IRONS!
Charlotte The Harlot
(bonus non-album single released around Killers) Women In Uniform